Heitinga did not train on penalties with Ajax: ‘Best players take penalties’
Timber and Heitinga for return against Union: ‘It definitely has to be different’
Ajax can qualify for the eighth finals of the Europa League on Thursday night. In the characteristic Stadion An der alten Försterei, the stiff Union Berlin is the opponent.
It was anything but scintillating what Ajax put on the mat in their own Johan Cruijff Arena last week. Ajax got away with a scoreless draw at the Johan Cruijff Arena (0-0). Coach John Heitinga’s team did not fire a single shot on goal in the entire match.
Ajax still trained today in Amsterdam at De Toekomst. That was partly due to potholes. “We would still like to train tactically and here everything is open,” he said.
There was good news this morning for Heitinga: Edson Alvarez seems fit enough to play against Union Berlin. The Mexican trained with the squad again. Heitinga will tie the knot on Thursday. “Edson is a fighter. He won’t give up easily.”
In recent days there were doubts about the fitness the 25-year-old Alvarez, as he had himself substituted last Sunday against Sparta Rotterdam (4-0 win) with a sore shoulder.
There is a possibility that Álvarez will move on to midfield. In that case, Calvin Bassey will return in the center of defense. Heitinga may again have to choose between Kenneth Taylor and Davy Klaassen in midfield.
“We have to do it differently from last week when we had the ball a lot but created little,” said the successor to the sacked Alfred Schreuder. “That can be done with the same players but also with other players. We will see.”
Lots of information
Heitinga says the match in Amsterdam gave him a lot of information. Indeed, Union showed itself to be an unyielding team that lurks on the counterpunch. “They won’t do it any differently,” he said.
According to the coach, Ajax itself “definitely needs to do things differently.” About the approach Heitinga shrouds himself in mists. “It can be with the same players, but also with other players…”
Heitinga does reveal that it needs to be more dynamic. “We have to force the opponent to make choices.”
Defender Jurriën Timber also does not show the back of his tongue. “There is a plan, but I’m keeping it a secret. We still have some meetings, so we don’t know exactly how we’re going to do it.”
Information goalkeeper trainer
Heitinga did not prepare Ajax for penalty kicks in Berlin after the scoreless draw in Amsterdam: “I have not been thinking about it. I assume there will be no penalties. Best players will take it. And the goalkeepers will still get information from goalkeeper trainer Anton Scheutjens.”